Music » CD Reviews

Ry Cooder

Chavez Ravine (Nonesuch/Perro Verde)


Chavez Ravine is one of the most original and heartfelt records master musician/cultural catalyst Ry Cooder has ever released. It also signals his ambivalent, complex re-entry into U.S. culture after spending most of the '90s resurrecting pre-Castro Cuban music in the Buena Vista Social Club and its numerous spinoffs.

Chavez Ravine is Cooder's attempt to deconstruct and reconstruct a Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles that the city razed in the early '50s to make way for Dodger Stadium. Infused with news bites from the period highlighting the Red Scare and UFOs, the disc is colored by contributions from such legendary L.A. musicians as Thee Midniters' Little Willie G. and the last recording of Don Tosti, creator of the zoot-suited Pachuco sound. (Tosti died last August.)

Some tracks are disturbing, many are sad, some rock hard -- particularly the sly "Muy Fifi" and "Chinito Chinito," the churning recreation of a single Tosti recorded in 1949. Like In the Shadow of No Towers, Art Spiegelman's brilliant graphic novel about 9-11, history and commentary swirl here, creating a unique brew. May Cooder continue to mix past and present into even more stirring homages.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.